thought clouds about many ideas

Last year the HR industry as a whole braced itself for a period of regulatory uncertainty, with the inauguration of President Trump. His campaign hammered on a large number of regulations placed on businesses by the Obama administration.  Along with the massive changes going on in Washington in 2017, there was something else that seemed to trend more than anything.

HR departments across the country played a crucial role in one of the year’s largest controversies. There was an unprecedented number of incidents reported and wrapped into one beaten to death hashtag (#METoo). For those not familiar, this hashtag represents all the different sexual assault cases being reported in 2017. Some were brought to light last year but happened years prior. But women felt compelled and empowered to publicize these acts of harassment and assault because they saw so many women of prominence, or in Hollywood coming forth in the public eye.

Because of the #MeToo movement, this had a drastic effect on all professional work environments. The push to make the workplace a safer, more diverse environment meant a steady stream of new and innovative tasks for the HR department and a renewed sense of self-scrutiny.

Now that we’re in 2018, a new wave of trends have been slowly emerging, but some recurring themes are likely to contribute to the new HR landscape.

1: The changing role of the CHRO – Numerical reasoning and fiscal responsibility have become a more desired asset than just people skills. Statistical expertise has become the newest most valued asset in a major HR role.

2: A focus on branding and the employee experience – Branding has become synonymous with the employee lifecycle. They are now intertwined and reflect one another.

3: Upskilling and the new talent pipeline – May we suggest outsourcing certain functions that may be suffering? (wink* wink*)

4: Fighting harassment and improving inclusion – Psychological safety has become paramount. The #MeToo movement still lingers in 2018, and will probably into next year as well.

5: Sexual orientation protections – The end goal, a harassment-free workplace. Problem: what constitutes harassment? It’s still subjective per case.

6: Worker compensation and classification – The pay transparency movement got a big boost when Google announced that it would begin displaying salary info next to job postings. New salary history bans put in place by various state and local governments just may push that initiative forward, too.

7: State and local laws – Because of the lack of federal activity, state and local governments have started to step into the breach.

8: Personalization of benefits delivery and communication – 2017 saw an industry-wide explosion of interaction-focused, on-demand apps for personal health, wellness programs, personal finance and among others. Now the goal is to take that user experience and make it even more personal.

9: Ballooning employee debt and a focus on financial wellness education – It’s good to seek out young talent, but you won’t have the full attention (in recruiting or in the workplace) of millennial and Generation Z workers if you ignore their financial wellness. Student debt is higher than it has ever been today among US workers at 1.4 trillion. Student loan repayment benefits progams will skyrocket if the bill gets passed.

10: Consolidation of vendors, retailers, and healthcare insurers –  In 2018, we could see growth focused more on consolidation, rather than expansion regarding HR, mobile, and consumer-facing technologies.


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